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William Rickett Bangs and Elizabeth Newdick I have posted this story in the hope that it might help others searching for the stories surrounding the bare facts of their ancestors. This particular story is of interest in the way in which so many sources had to be found and consulted before the final story emerged. These sources would be of considerable use to many engaging in such research, as many more names appeared alongside the ones we were interested in. The sources include: Parish registers; Trade directories; Censuses; Newspaper archives, including local papers, plus The Times and The London Gazette; Internet searches for military history; Military Records in the National Archives (abbreviated NA in this document); Voters’ lists; Records of the Enclosure Commissioners for Undley Common and Lakenheath, including maps; Personal visits to the area; Title deeds (and maps) to properties; Tithe apportionment documents; Manorial records such as Courts Baron; Wills and probate entries; Land sale indentures.
The story of William Rickett Bangs enters into the world of land tenure, but also touches another thread, that of military service. These two elements are rather disparate, so we will begin with William’s military career. William Rickett Bangs was baptised in Lakenheath on the 8th March 1777 and died on the 27th April 1852 in Lakenheath, buried three days later. He was the son of Thomas Bangs and Susannah Stonely. His middle name, (which is occasionally mis-written in documents as Rickwood), derives from the surname of his supposed step-grandfather, William Rickett, who married Rebecca Bangs. He must have had an earlier wife, (though she is unknown at present), because as a widower he married Elizabeth Newdick on the 2nd January 1818 in Lakenheath, the licence being issued on the 27th December 1817. The witnesses to the wedding were William's brother Samuel and Charles Newdick, brother of the bride. Elizabeth was baptised on April 2, 1769 in Worlington, died aged 87 on the 9th June 1853 and was buried two days later in Lakenheath. Those are the bare facts of their lives, and we will start by examining William’s military career. In the 1841 census he is living with his wife in High Street, Lakenheath, and in various directories in the 1840s the Post Office Directory for 1846 he is listed as a resident as Bangs, Lieut. William, and similarly in the section under “gentry”
In the 1851 Census for Anchor Lane, Lakenheath, he is the head of the household, aged 74, retired Adjutant 74th regiment, living with Elizabeth Bangs, his wife, aged 82, born in Worlington, Suffolk. They also had a servant, Jane Forbes, aged 19, born in Feltwell, Norfolk.
White’s Directory 1844, Post Office Directory 1846, among others.
So William had been a soldier. In fact we know quite a bit more: he joined up when he was 17, became a sergeant major and was promoted to Ensign on the 3rd February 1812 “obtained without purchase ” (i.e. on his own merits as a good soldier) and to Adjutant on the 30th July 1813 and to Lieutenant on the 19th June 1814, (see the press cuttings shown here). However, the regiment he served in was mis-stated in the census. In fact he served in the 47th Regiment of Foot, the Lancashires, which had a battalion which recruited in Norfolk. The regiment saw action in the West Indies during the French Revolutionary War in 1790, in South Africa in 1806, took part in the storming of Montevideo (now capital of Uruguay) in 1807, was forced to surrender after the unsuccessful siege of Buenos Aires. The 1st Battalion eventually arrived in India in 1808 and the following year its flank companies took part in an expedition to the Persian Gulf against notorious Arab Pirates in their base of Ras-al-Khaima. Whilst the 1st Battalion was in India the 2nd Battalion deployed to Gibraltar and in 1811 commenced its participation in the Peninsular War. In 1817 the 47th took part in the 3rd Mahratta War, the last war between the British and the Mahratta Empire, and which ensured that Britain was effectively in control of much of present-day India3.
William may have joined up in 1794 - precisely when the Norfolk battalion was being recruited. But the Chelsea Pensioners' Service Record states that he enlisted in the 1st Battalion, 38th Foot, in October 1804, as a serjeant. Thus it seems that he moved around the service. Since he was a widower when he married Elizabeth Newdick in 1818, the chances are he had an overseas wife who died (or didn't – there were many “Indian” wives abandoned by British soldiers!). By 1818 he was back in Britain as his marriage took place there in January. In 1841 he may have still been serving, according to census details. We know for sure he was in that regiment from the army list of officers, and we can place William in Bombay in 1814 from a reference in an article in The Times which you can see here.
These appointments are found in many newspapers, such as: Lancaster Gazette, 7th August 1813, but these are reporting the official records in The London Gazette, and the events above can be found in the editions for, inter alia, 31/07/1813, 08/01/1814, 25/01/1814 and 02/03/1816. There are many histories of the Regiment, but a useful one can be found on: http://www.lancashireinfantrymuseum.org.uk/the-47th-lancashire-regiment-of-foot/ But his army record shows more than the press reports. The Muster Books and Pay Rolls4 show that he was serving in Bombay as a Sergeant Major by as early as 1809, when he is in Captain Richard Chetham’s Company.
He is still a Sergeant Major in Bombay in 1812, as the muster book shows. By the following year he is still in Bombay, and in February is listed as having the rank of Ensign. But by the first month of 1815 he is an adjutant: By September of the same year he has progressed to a Lieutenant’s rank, his final advancement: We can suppose that he retired with a reasonable pension to match his status as a “gentleman”. That’s NA, Ref: WO 12/5888 and subsequent documents in the same series. something we shall return to. In 1846 we can see that he was included on the voters’ list as shown here5.
Now to move on to discuss his Suffolk married life, and, especially, his land ownership. In order to understand this, we need to examine what was happening in the region in those days. Earlier, East Anglian fens were being drained, leading to new expanses of land, much of it held in common for the use of local landowners, many of them small tenants.
Now, in later years, a new type of change of land use and enclosure was coming about. Medieval open fields and commons in many parts of England had been enclosed, or divided up and fenced off, in an ad hoc way at various times. This had often been carried out by lords of the manor with little or no consultation with the people it probably affected most - poor tenant farmers. At best it led to disquiet, and at worst to uprisings, such as the Kett Rebellion already mentioned. By the 19th century enclosure of the remaining open land and commons was only possible by Act of Parliament, providing for the enclosure of open land in specific localities. It was necessary to carry out a full survey of the lands in question, and of the rights owned by the various occupiers of land, whether landowners or not. A Commissioner would be appointed to do this, and then decide on how land would be “allotted” to the various people concerned. In Lakenheath this process took place between 1833 and 1837, although prior to this some enclosures took place on nearby Undley
Suffolk Record Office, Ref: FL517/5/37. Common following a specific Act of Parliament (“Private Acts of Lands”) passed in 1818. The document shown above is of the allocation in 1820 to Elizabeth, the wife of William Rickett, of land on Undley Common6.
The amount of work involved in allotting the land would have been very substantial. The first step was for the Commissioner to invite claims to be submitted by anyone who thought they had rights on the open fields. For Lakenheath these claims were published in a printed booklet in 18337, to enable them to be contested by objectors. Such objections could be made on a set day in August, before a public meeting that was held at The Bell Inn in Lakenheath. As well as submitting any objection to the Commissioner, objectors also had to notify in writing the person whose claim was being contested.
The claims submitted by William Rickett and Elizabeth are shown here. The rights claimed by Elizabeth Allsop referred to are as follows: “A right of shackage for great cattle and hogs without stint, in, over and upon all the open fields in Lakenheath, for nine days after harvest each year. Also a right to feed and depasture all manner of great cattle without stint, in, over and upon the waste lands in Lakenheath, at all times of the year. Also a right to dig and take dead lime, gravel, clay and sand, at the sandpits and on South Green, and Mutford Green”.
The Awards document shows that each of them was granted some land – William’s allotment being larger than his wife’s – presumably because he claimed rights in respect of two properties, whereas Elizabeth only claimed rights in respect of one. They were each awarded part of Plot 17 but clearly, as can be seen on this map, William Rickett’s allotment is nearly twice the size of Elizabeth’s. The awards document which gave them the titles and rights to the land is shown in detail below. If you read the terms, it will show the exact location and the area of land in question.
The Plot 17 referred to is now largely built on for housing, but here is a photo of the site from April 2011. The name of the side road is Broom Road, reflecting the old name of this area, The Broom, marked on the map shown above. This probably referred to the gorse flowers that once would have grown there. Most of the houses are very modern, but the ownership of the corner house, Broome Cottage, can be traced right back to the 1837 Enclosures. Thus at least the plot is the correct one, and even the cottage does, on closer inspection, seem older than it at first appears, though much modernised. The low windows on the side elevation would seem to offer evidence that the road formerly ran alongside the house at a much lower level. The title deeds of the house have been viewed, and they contain the detail which will be given below concerning William Rickett.
Briefly leaving aside the issue of the Enclosures, we can turn to another source of information about land tenure – Tithe Apportionments. Tithes were payments due to be made by landholders to the church. Originally they consisted of a tenth of the crop grown on each plot of land, and this was a major source of income for the church, usually supporting the income of the local parish vicar. Whilst many parishes built large tithe barns to store all these goods, it was often seen as being simpler for tithes to be paid as a sum of money, rather than in kind. This gradual change to a monetary payment system developed in an ad hoc way, and in 1836 the Government passed the Tithe Commutation Act. This set out a standard system for commuting tithes to monetary payments, in an attempt to make things simpler and fairer for all. The whole
10 Suffolk Record Office, Ref: GB 541/3/7. country was surveyed, parish by parish. Each field or parcel of land was measured, and the level of tithe payment decided, or “apportioned”. As with the Enclosure Awards this was a huge task and it took some time for the survey and apportionment of tithes to be completed. In Lakenheath the survey was made in 1850 but the apportionment was not calculated and published until 1854. It provides us with useful additional information about our William’s land. In fact, thanks to the meticulous recording of land transactions under the Manorial Court system, and the fortuitous survival of many of the Lakenheath Court documents, we have been able to piece together a fairly detailed sequence of property ownership and occupation for William Rickett and his wife from the time just after their marriage until they both died in the early 1850s. To begin with, just over a year after their wedding, on the 4th March 1819, William Rickett and Elizabeth jointly paid £70 to Richard Gathercole for a cottage. Here is an extract from the surviving surrender document11 . And here is the corresponding entry in the Court book12 . Although not specifically identified in the documents, it is clear (from the documents when the property was eventually sold after Elizabeth’s death) that this was the property in Anchor Lane that Elizabeth kept until her death (see more below). It is interesting to note that the surrender document states that the premises were “to the absolute use and behoof13 of Elizabeth the wife of the said William Rickwood[sic] Bangs”. Elizabeth, who is present in court, then asks to be “admitted” to the tenancy.
11 Cambridge University Library, Ref: EDC 7/16G. 12 Cambridge University Library, Ref: EDC 7/16G. Subsequent references to the Lakenheath Manorial records are from the same source. 13 A word which means “benefit”. Although there is no proof, the fact that it was put into Elizabeth’s sole name may be not unconnected with the fact that in the will of her father, John Newdick, dated 5th May 1819, he mentions that he has a “note in hand” (i.e. an IOU) from his daughter for £10014. Perhaps he lent his daughter and her new husband the money to buy a cottage, but insisted on it being in her name, not in joint names or even in the husband’s sole name, as was the usual practice of the time. The surrender document also tells us that the cottage was already occupied by William at a yearly rent of just one penny, and comes with its “Rights of Commonage”. So it looks as though William and Elizabeth rented and lived in the cottage after their marriage, and were able to buy it a year or so later. Later the same year William and Elizabeth came to the Court and made a “surrender to will” of all their Lakenheath property. This form of surrender means that the tenant of the property is able to leave it to anyone they choose to nominate in their own will, rather than have to it pass to the next direct heir, and would be particularly useful in the case of a childless couple such as William and Elizabeth. Interestingly the Court record notes that the surrender was only allowed to proceed after “she the said Elizabeth Bangs being first solely secretly and apart from her said Husband examined by the said Steward of the said Manor and freely and voluntarily consenting.” However it was funded, the purchase of the cottage from Richard Gathercole proved to be an astute transaction. Less than a year later, in April 1820 under the provisions of a specific Act of Parliament of 1818, Undley Common, just to the west of Lakenheath, was enclosed. The Commissioner allotted to Elizabeth “one piece of land containing one acre one rood and eight perches”. As the Commissioner wrote: “And I do declare that the land comprised in the allotment hereby made to the said Elizabeth Bangs shall for ever hereafter be holden by Copy of Court Roll of the Manor of Lakenheath the same being allotted to her for and in respect of rights of common appendant or appurtenant to the Cottage or Tenement which she holds by Copy of Court Roll at that Manor”. In other words she was allotted the land because the cottage bought from Richard Gathercole had “rights of commonage”. As was the case with all the others who were allotted land on Undley Common, Elizabeth had to pay her share of the Commissioner’s expenses – £7 in her case, as you can see here15 .
14 Suffolk Record Office, Ref: IC 500/1/275 (46). 15 Suffolk Record Office, Ref: FL517/1/2/1. In 1822 Elizabeth comes before the court to be admitted to the tenancy of that piece of land, which is described and defined as follows: In 1822 a survey of Manorial Lands in Undley, Lakenheath, shows that William occupies a property of one acre, one rood, eight perches on Undley Common Allotments, for which he pays 10s per annum. In other words the plot allotted to Elizabeth in her own name has now become an asset belonging to William! This is simply in line with practice of the times, under which married women could not normally hold property in their own names. But then, not long after this, at a Court Baron of the 10th May 1823, we learn that on the 12th December 1822 William and Elizabeth surrendered the manorial tenancy in favour of a George Cronshey, an innkeeper from Thetford. From its description we can tell that this is the cottage first purchased from Richard Gathercole in 1819 and the parcel of land (now described as arable land) allotted to Elizabeth in respect of her “rights of common” that were attached to that cottage. But also included in the Surrender are “all other the Lands Tenements and Hereditaments whatsoever of them the said William Rickwood [sic] Bangs and Elizabeth his wife holden of the said manor by Copy of Court Roll.” So why are William and Elizabeth surrendering all their property to George Cronshey? The answer to that question is revealed in a clause towards the end of the document which says that the agreement is to be void “on payment by the said William Rickwood Bangs and Elizabeth his wife ... unto the said George Cronshey ... the sum of £140 with lawful interest for the same on the 12th day of December next”. This means that William is taking out what we would now call a mortgage on the property. A look at the cover of the actual Surrender document confirms that, as it is titled “Conditional Surrender for securing the repayment of £140 and Interest”. The same innkeeper will be mentioned again a little later. Still following the trail of William, a Survey of 1829 notes that William holds a messuage with a close of pasture, and another with 8 acres of arable land and a piece of “waste” (probably fen or marshland), the value being over £400. In the same year at a Court Baron of the 26th October, we see that William is admitted to the tenancy. But then, at the same Court, William once again surrenders the land, this time to a butcher from Brandon named Thomas Willett junior, from which we learn that this is a mansion house at the entrance to the town of Lakenheath, occupied formerly by a Thomas Waddelow but now by William, who obtained it by surrender from a Barnes Caldecott (which probably means he bought it), but as seen before, the surrender will be void if William pays the sum of £300 with interest on or before the 26th April next. Again this means he is borrowing against the land, as we saw before with the property mortgaged to George Cronshey. William has funded the purchase of this property largely by what we would nowadays call Debt Financing. The document is shown here. On the 18th January 1832 William repaid the loan from Thomas Willett. You can see the “Acknowledgment of Satisfaction” of that date. The crucial part of the wording is this: “I Thomas Willett the younger of Brandon in the county of Suffolk, Butcher, do hereby acknowledge to have this day had and received of and from William Rickett Bangs of Lakenheath in the county of Suffolk Gentleman All principal money and interest due and owing to me…” But this doesn’t mean that William has now got his finances on any sounder footing, as the very next day we learn that he has once again taken out a loan on this “Mansion House” property. This time it is for £400 and the lender is the same George Cronshey, with whom he already has a “mortgage” for £140, not yet repaid. Interest was set at 5% per annum. The document also refers to a Bond and an Indenture for the same amount made by William. There is a note added at a later date to the margin of the Court Book which shows that Cronshey died in 1842 and that the debt was discharged by his executor as presented to a Court Baron in 1843. It is quite likely that although the loans were expressly said to be for a fixed term, with interest, in reality they were extended year on year, as long as the interest payments were met. This would have been a convenient way in those days for someone with surplus funds, like George Cronshey, to put that money to work. It is likely that the loan was only repaid in 1842 because George Cronshey had died, and his heirs “called it in”. Still with William Rickett, we move forward to 1837, after the Commons Commissioner for Lakenheath has made awards for allotting land as part of the Lakenheath enclosures. At a Court Baron on the 23rd October, William and his wife are granted admission to the tenancy of the lands awarded. The two plots of land border each other and are part of the one numbered 17 and are shown on the map in part reproduced again here. William Rickett’s allotment is “in respect of Rights of Common appendant or appurtenant to the site of a messuage formerly called ‘Grigg’s” – we think this is the Mansion House that he purchased in 1829 and on which he still has an outstanding loan. Elizabeth’s allotment is awarded in respect of her cottage purchased from Richard Gathercole in 1819 (the Court document says 1829, but that is clearly an error). So once again William is shown to have prospered with his property deals. The cottage purchased in 1819 has now yielded a plot in Lakenheath in addition to that on Undley Common in 1820. The Mansion House property, purchased in 1829, has also provided him with another plot. Even with the outstanding debts to service, the extra properties now awarded would seem to have provided a better asset base for the couple. In 1842 the two loans from Cronshey were repaid, as suggested by the marginal note referred to above. We have two separate “Acknowledgments of Satisfaction” dated 20th October in that year. William has repaid the £140 borrowed in 1822, and the £400 borrowed in 1832. Again we might think that William’s finances were now on a sounder footing. But the only reason he has repaid these loans is that George Cronshey has died, and his son has called in the loans, as he was entitled to. Far from their finances being secure, the only way they were able to meet the call for the Cronshey loans to be repaid was to raise money on their properties yet again. In fact on the 17th October, three days before the Cronshey loans were repaid, William and Elizabeth completed no fewer than three surrenders. Firstly they make an “Absolute Surrender” (i.e. a sale, not a mortgage) to a George Rutterford for £160. Once more, the Court Steward interviews Elizabeth privately, “separately and apart from her said husband” to make sure she really does agree to the sale. We can see the signatures of both William Rickett and Elizabeth, acknowledging receipt of the £160, on this extract from the surrender document. The property is the plot of land awarded to Elizabeth on Undley Common when it was enclosed in 1822, along with three other cottages which it appears were recently built on the land. The second surrender is to one James Goddard of Litcham in Norfolk, yeoman. The property in question is the Mansion House at the entrance to Lakenheath which we saw above in 1829, in which are living William himself, one Philip Morley (we will see later that he is a grocer and draper from Lakenheath and is presumably a relative) and others. It is a “Conditional surrender” and is void if William pays the sum of £400 with interest at 5% by the 17th April of the following year, which is also the subject of a deed of covenant made between William and Goddard. So William has now taken out a loan in order to be able to repay the existing loan on the property just three days later! The third surrender was an Absolute Surrender, or sale, to one Thomas Rolph for £80. Rolph had to borrow £40 of the sum from a Wootton Isaacson in order to finance the deal. The land is the property which we saw above, awarded him under the Lakenheath Enclosures, bordering that of his wife Elizabeth. So in a span of four days William has raised a total of £640 pounds, nearly all of which would have been used to repay the loans to Cronshey’s son, along with any outstanding interest for the current year. Further documents relating to much later transactions record the property as follows: “1 acre, 3 roods and 10 perches of land with two cottages and buildings abutting north upon the Drift Road to Brandon South, upon lands late of Elizabeth Bangs”. Other documents tell us that after her death (see later) the land has been sold to a Brown and that it is lying “in the sand pits and adjoining the high road known by the Eriswell Road”. But still the property deals involving William continue. On the 13th May 1844, he and Elizabeth surrender a property to Charles Newdick for the sum of just £1. 10s. This may seem a very small sum, but it is explained by realising that Charles Newdick is in fact Elizabeth’s brother and the property is quite a small plot16. He is a miller, and once more Elizabeth is examined privately – a quite surprising level of protection for the married woman for those days. The land is marked out by stakes and is one chain and a half long and 26 yards wide, and a mill is being erected on the site, which partly borders Elizabeth’s property. It is accompanied by a further piece of land to provide an access roadway between the
16 Suffolk Record Office, Ref: FL517/3/3/2. mill and the nearby road. This is a portion of the land to which Elizabeth was admitted in 1837. A much later map which accompanies title deeds shows the properties and includes the mill and its access road17 : The Philip James Morley mentioned above may or may not be a relative, but he is charged a tidy sum for the purchase of more property from William in 1846. At a Court Baron on the 2nd November of that year, this Lakenheath draper and grocer is admitted to property for which he has paid William £440. This is a sale of the mansion which was mortgaged to Goddard in 1843, and is accompanied by two smaller pieces of land, one of which is waste or warren land and as yet unenclosed. So Philip Morley is purchasing the house in which he had been living, and still may have been. Looking at the paperwork, we can see why William has finally sold the Mansion House - because the day before, he repaid the loan to Goddard which he took out in 1842. We can see the Acknowledgement of Satisfaction for that repayment here. With the probable inclusion of some outstanding interest, William will not have had much ready cash left over after repaying the loans. We are nearing the final chapter of William’s land deals and this last one is curious. On the 10th of April 1851 Robert Place purchased from William Rickett and Elizabeth the plot of land she had been awarded by the Lakenheath Enclosure Commissioners in 1837 (minus the plot sold to Elizabeth’s brother, Charles, for his windmill). Also included in the sale were the three cottages that had since been built on the plot. Place pays £77 and here you can see the signatures of William and Elizabeth on the receipt. The plot was identified in the Tithe Apportionments18 in 1854 as Plot 223, and you can see it on the map below (and if you look carefully you can see on Plot 224 a sweet little drawing of the windmill built by Charles Newdick). Yet again the Court Steward interviews Elizabeth privately, “separately and apart from her said
17 Suffolk Record Office, Ref: GB 541/3/7. 18 Suffolk Record Office, Ref: FL517/3/3/2. husband” to make sure she really does agree to the sale. What makes this transaction seem so curious is that it is recorded as happening on the 10th April 1853, yet William died on the 27th April 1852. Clearly it was a mistake. In fact this was not the first date error on the part of the scribe, or the Steward. In the tithe documents Elizabeth Bangs, as a widow, is seen to be living on the same plot that was allocated to her in the Enclosure Award. You can see the actual house marked on Plot 223 on the above map. As the photo we have already seen shows, it is now occupied by modern housing. The entry in the Tithe Award19 shows that the plot was owned then by one Robert Plaice, [sic], was Arable land (rather than Pasture), amounted to 2 roods and 18 perches in area and was subject to a tithe payment of 1 shilling per year. Elizabeth is also shown as actually owning another plot, number 48, in Anchor Lane, and recorded as Unoccupied in the Tithe Award schedule: To complete the story of Elizabeth and her properties, we note that in 1850 she made her will, itemising in her estate “my house, yard and premises situate in the Anchor Lane in Lakenheath wherein I now reside”. As her will was dated the 2nd of February 1850, it is possible that she had moved house at about that time20 . The house is in Anchor Lane, just across the High Street from her sister-in-law Ann (who lived on plot 150a on Cross Lane) as shown on this Tithe map.
19 Suffolk Record Office, Ref: FL517/3/3/2. 20 Suffolk Record Office, Ref: IC/500/1/310/74. The house still exists, although somewhat modernised, as you can see from this photo. It is now called Brewery House. Also in her will Elizabeth writes the following: “All those my three cottages or tenements at Lakenheath ... at a place commonly called The Little Sandpit, now occupied by John Clark, Nathaniel Flack and John Harrison”. These were the cottages built on the land later sold to Robert Place, with these three named as tenants. There is a rather sad note pencilled in the margin of Elizabeth’s will. It is undated, but clearly added some time after her death. The first part says “These were sold before Mrs Bangs rec’d her pension”. It refers to the three cottages mentioned above. We will deal with that reference to a pension in a moment. The second part says “This is the old cottage in which she lived and died and is all she left in the world the premises were sold at her husband’s death to pay their debts the full value of the cottage is abt £35”. It refers to the cottage in Anchor Lane. It would seem that in her will Elizabeth, who had no children, had made sound preparations to pass on her properties to her brothers. But either William had concealed his debts from her, or some financial calamity occurred between her writing the will and William’s death about two years later. The Anchor Lane cottage was eventually sold by Elizabeth’s brothers – her executors – in 1857, to Robert Place for the sum of £70. A rather grand parchment Indenture of Sale has survived, part of which you can see here21 . Although William had a substantial career in the army, before marrying Elizabeth, we have found no evidence of any occupation after his retirement – the date of which is uncertain. He will have had a pension from the army, but it would seem that his income was insufficient to meet the cost of his lifestyle. In other words he was living beyond his means. For mention of William’s death in the Court Book we have to wait until another Court Baron later in 1853, on the 29th October, and even then it is only mentioned in passing.
21 Cambridge Record Office, Ref: 283 – uncatalogued within group. William Rickett died intestate in 1852. The letter of administration of his estate reads: “On the 2nd day of November, administration of the goods and chattels of William Rickett Bangs, late of Lakenheath, Gentleman, intestate, deceased, was granted to George Bangs, one of the nephews of the said deceased, Elizabeth Bangs, widow, the relict of the said deceased, having under her hand and seal renounced the administration.” 22 In fact, this George was his great-nephew Fuller George, his brother Thomas’ grandson. Here are two versions of the death certificate entry. The reason for displaying both will become apparent in due course. The standard registry entry is this one: But there is a further one seen: We could quite easily leave the story to end there, but there are some facts which don’t stand up to close scrutiny without some further explanation. The date of William’s death and the will made by Elizabeth leave us with a puzzle. Elizabeth made her will when her husband was still alive, yet leaves her property to her brothers (remember they have no children) including the house in which she (not ‘she and her husband’) is living. And it would appear that when William died, as shown above, she waived her right to his estate (whatever that might be, we have no idea) by signing some paper. How can she leave the matrimonial home in her will without mentioning her husband? The only logical answer has to be that, whatever the census return says, they were separated and had made some agreement with regards to their properties. It’s not clear whether the houses in the Little Sandpit were property she owned before the marriage or purchased by William on his return from military service. Looking further into this mystery, we can point to evidence we have already seen, that in fact they were indeed leading separate lives. From the map, it can be seen quite clearly that they are living in neighbouring houses. Furthermore, the text of the enclosure award
22 Ref ... makes this clear. The key section reads as follows: “And I do hereby direct that the said allotment of seven acres two roods and twenty eight perches of land shall from and after the execution of this my Award be held and enjoyed by the persons entitled all thereto or interested therein in manner following. One acre three roods and ten perches at the north end thereof by William Rickett Bangs three roods and nine perches immediately adjoining thereto by Elizabeth the Wife of the said William Rickett Bangs three roods and twenty nine perches immediately adjoining the last piece by John Hollingsworth ...... And I do direct that the said William Rickett Bangs shall make and forever hereafter maintain and keep in repair the fences on all sides of his said part of the said allotment of land. And the said Elizabeth the Wife of the said William Rickett Bangs, John Hollingsworth ... shall severally make and for ever hereafter maintain and keep in repair the fences on the west south and east sides of their respective pieces or parts of the said Allotment of land.” The other uncertainty concerns the mention in the notes written on Elizabeth’s will of a pension. After William’s death, Elizabeth must have been suffering some financial hardship. We have previously mentioned the margin note added to her will which shows she had very little, and that some property was “… sold before Mrs Bangs rec’d her pension”. And in 1857, some four years after her death, the executors disposed of Elizabeth's property by selling it to Robert Place for £70. After William’s death, we know that Elizabeth was suffering some financial hardship. We have previously mentioned the margin note added to her will which shows she had very little, and that some property was “… sold before Mrs Bangs rec’d her pension”. Indeed, in 1857, some four years after her death, the executors disposed of Elizabeth's property by selling it to Robert Place for £70. The reference to the pension was for some time a mystery, until documents were discovered related to William’s army pension. Whilst not totally certain, the evidence accumulated strongly points to the following sequence of events occurring after William’s death on the 27th April 1852. Very soon afterwards, just four days after his death, on the 1st May, the vicar of Lakenheath supplies a handwritten certified copy of their marriage (shown here) which, given the time scale, must have been requested by Elizabeth, presumably realising she would need it to claim William’s army pension. Therefore it seems likely that Elizabeth knew, or was advised, that she would need proof of the marriage to claim her inherited pension, and so asked the vicar for this copy straight away - after all, she would have had dealings with him over the burial arrangements. As we showed on the register entries above, William's death was registered on the 4th May, but by James Rolph, not his widow – since there is no requirement for the informant to be a male, this was surely because William was not living with Elizabeth. Since we find a second copy of the register entry of death in the army records, it seems that this second certificate was requested either by the army, or by Elizabeth, through James Rolph. Elizabeth must have written to the army claiming inheritance rights to William's pension, probably sending the certified copy of the marriage register. It would have been common knowledge that this would have been needed to support such a claim, and she must have requested it almost straight after William's death. No paperwork evidence has been found for such a letter from Elizabeth for this, but it must have happened, or Elizabeth would not have been sent the claim document which we see here. Elizabeth fills in the pro-forma and gets it signed by a magistrate on the 15th June 1852. The section at the bottom of the pro-forma is not filled out - either because the marriage took place after William went onto half pay, or possibly because she had sent in a copy of the marriage register. Elizabeth must have sent in the paperwork soon after the 15th for the army to consider it. You can see that his date of death has been written in on a line at the top of the proforma. This must have been done by the army, as that line has no heading. Also the word “Stamp” is handwritten next to it, and there is a War Office stamp dated '52 (it is hard to read the complete date) at the top - possibly suggesting that the date of death has been confirmed. An unusual item to be pointed out is that on this form Elizabeth signs by making her mark – whereas we know from quite a few property documents that she could write her name. The reason is unclear, but perhaps her health was failing. The date of Elizabeth’s death, the 9th June 1853 has been added next to her signature. We have no way of knowing when, or even if, the army started to pay out William’s widow’s pension. If it was delayed or never came, it would explain some of her actions regarding properties which we saw earlier. It would be apposite to point out here just how much was at stake. The daily pay for a Lieutenant in the infantry in 1815 was 6 shillings and six pence, though if William was still considered an adjutant, this would rise to 8 shillings and six pence. Whether this applied equally to Indian service is unclear. So, in the worst case scenario, if this is what his widow could have received, she may have been entitled to the daily rate of 3 shillings and 3 pence, an annual sum of around £70. In today’s terms of purchasing power it would be the equivalent of ten times that sum, so worth quite a lot. But if the pension was delayed or not paid out, we might ask the question as to why the army took so long to deal with what must have a much-repeated type of request. We cannot know this for sure, but it might be the case that the army was aware that they had not been cohabiting (though unlikely), or that, because William had married as a widower, they needed to make searches to see whether there was indeed a death of his previous wife? To round off our account of William Rickett, we have a couple of curious items involving him. The first is a very strange story involving dreams and missing persons 23. The cutting is seen here and well worth reading. And finally, another curiosity - we can see from this advertisement 24 that both William Rickett and his brother Samuel are described as “Gentlemen of the Parish” and are endorsing a herbal remedy. The only problem with that is that by the date of this publication, Samuel was already deceased - so either the company was taking his name in vain, or the advertisement had perhaps been pending for a while.
23 Bury and Norwich Post, 5th May 1841. 24 Ipswich Journal, 14th May 1836.